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A remarkable place producing outstanding people

Updated : 2020-09-01

Editor's note: A book about landscaping in Wuxi written by Sun Zhiliang, deputy director of the Wuxi City Planning Committee, was published by Tsinghua University Press recently. In the book, Sun reviews Wuxi's landscapes, culture and famous residents, highlighting the city's preference for landscaping since ancient times, and people's desire to live in this scenic city.

With a history of 3,000 years, Wuxi is blessed with rich cultural features. The propitious lakeside land has been the birthplace of many celebrated people.

The city was not only the hometown of many Chinese masters of calligraphy and painting, including Gu Kaizhi, Xu Beihong and Wu Guanzhong, but also developed great generals from many dynasties.

Gu Kaizhi (344-406) was one of the earliest many-faceted artists in China. He was an eccentric courtier who is most famous as a painter of portraits and figure subjects and as a poet. He is recorded as having been among the first to paint a representation of Vimala-kīrti, the Buddhist saint who became popular in China.

Gu Kaizhi's art is known today through copies of three silk handscroll paintings attributed to him: Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies (女史箴图), Nymph of the Luo River (洛神赋), and Wise and Benevolent Women (列女仁智图).

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A viewer stops to look at one of Xu Beihong's ink depictions of animals during an exhibition held at the Nanjing Museum on Nov 26, 2019. [Photo/IC]

Born in Wuxi's Yixing city in 1895, Xu Beihong was primarily known for his ink-and-wash paintings of horses and birds.

He was one of the first Chinese artists to articulate the need for artistic expressions that reflected a new modern China at the beginning of the 20th century. He was also regarded as one of the first to create monumental oil paintings with epic Chinese themes, evidence of his high proficiency in an essentially Western technique.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Xu served as the chairman of the Chinese Artists' Association.

Wu Guanzhong, another famous painter born in Yixing in 1919, has painted various aspects of China, including much of its architecture, plants, animals, people, and many of its landscapes and waterscapes in a style reminiscent of the impressionist painters of the early 1900s.

Wu has published collections of essays and dozens of albums of paintings. His paintings were exhibited at the British Museum in 1992, which was a first for a living Chinese artist.

Talents born in Wuxi have been showing their civil and military skills since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

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